Authorities are investigating whether a mysterious fire at the palatial Manhattan home of Chinese billionaire and accused fraudster Guo Wengui was started remotely, sources told the Post on Thursday.
Guo, a controversial figure whose real name is Ho Wan Kwok, had also wired the luxury 18th-floor apartment overlooking Central Park to accommodate his visitors, the sources said.
“It was absolutely wired,” the source said of Guo’s luxury apartment at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue. “Everything that happened there, especially in the solarium, was recorded. Every word.
“The fire was probably not started by a person in the room. It was kind of remotely started and the whole apartment was wired.”
The fire broke out on Wednesday as FBI agents were still searching it after accusing Guo of running a billion-dollar fraud scheme and feeding the proceeds to his lavish lifestyle.
Guo Wengui was accused by federal prosecutors on Wednesday of operating a multi-billion dollar fraud scheme – before flames broke out at his Manhattan penthouse. Helayne Seidman
The sources said the flames “destroyed the beautiful wood-paneled library – there was a bar in there”.
It wasn’t clear what method was used to start the fire remotely, but the FBI and FDNY are investigating the matter.
Guo, a Chinese exile and sidekick of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, is accused of running a lucrative fraud scheme and using the ill-gotten gains to sell a $26.5 million New Jersey mansion, a yacht splurge on a $37 million and $36,000 mattress for a $36,000 piano, federal prosecutors said.
The controversial billionaire has amassed a huge online following after founding two charities in 2018 that criticized the Chinese Communist Party, the Feds said.
Guo and his alleged co-conspirator Kin Ming then set up several businesses, including a lending firm, a media group and a members-only club, and then siphoned more than $1 billion from followers, prosecutors said.
According to sources, he allegedly hosted personalities such as Tony Blair in the spacious apartment.
Authorities are trying to determine if the fire at Chinese billionaire Wengui’s Manhattan townhouse was remotely started following his arrest on federal fraud charges Wednesday. REUTERS The Sherry-Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue on Wednesday.AP
It was Blair who wrote a letter of recommendation that propelled Guo into a higher social circle.
“Nobody knew him and he definitely wouldn’t have gotten in without that letter,” the source said. “It gave him a lot of credit that he might not have had without that letter.”
Guo also has business and political ties to Bannon, former chief adviser to former President Donald Trump. Bannon was even arrested on Guo’s yacht in 2022 for allegedly being involved in a plot to swindle investors out of a plan to privately build a US-Mexico border wall.
In 2020, Guo and Bannon formed a political group with the goal of overthrowing the ruling communist government in China. The group made headlines as planes draped banners bearing their insignia over the New York skyline.
Wengui allegedly used the proceeds from a billion-dollar scam scheme to support a lavish lifestyle, including a New Jersey mansion and a $37 million private yacht.
According to property records, he bought the Manhattan penthouse in 2015 for $67.5 million.
Guo was slapped with 12 counts of alleged fraud in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday and faces a life sentence if convicted.